Daniel McAllyster doesn't find the tree. No, the tree finds him. After arguing with Bess over the state of the cabin and the meals she prepares for the little ones, he stumbles out the door and heads into the woods for some clarity.
The tree stretches across the creek, topmost branches reaching east. In the soft silences of the woods, it came crashing down, taking with it smaller trees as its arm-like limbs grasped for purchase. But once a tree has fallen, it has fallen. No amount of helping hands will be able to right it.
Daniel studies the roots, now angry and exposed among the great mass of fresh dirt and rock. For a moment, he mourns.
He returns home and grabs a chain; throws it into the bed of his pickup. He opens the door. Bess stands at the sink, Harry on her hip. “Found me an oak,” he says. “I'll be a while.”
She doesn't turn around.
It takes him two hours to clean up the tree and haul it home. Tanya, likely hearing the chain saw buzzing, has stopped by and is sitting on the porch, drinking a cup of coffee. She stands. “That's a pretty piece of wood.”
Daniel nods, studying the wood in anticipation. “I'm thinking a dining room table. Caryn always wanted one.”
“Caryn is dead,” Tanya says. “And Bess is her own person. She can't stay here and care for her siblings forever.”
“Roots are important.”
“You can't just shape her into what you need her to be.”
Daniel looks up at the window, sees his daughter rocking the little one to sleep. He's seen the college brochures: Boston, New York, Maine.
“I just don't want her to fail.”
“You're afraid of losing her.”
“She's got nobody.”
“Neither do you. And neither do I.” Tanya smiles and presses a hand to his forearm. “Let me help you unhitch this tree,” she says, setting her mug on the porch.
This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was anticipation.